Privacy

WriteToThem is run by the charity mySociety.

Working in the fields of transparency and accountability, mySociety thinks hard and cares very much about the privacy and security of our users: the length of this privacy policy is one result of that. We know that no-one reads privacy policies for fun, though, so we’ve tried to keep it a clear and reasonably quick read.

We hope it covers everything you need to know, but if you still have any questions please feel free to contact us.

What information we collect

When you use WriteToThem to contact a representative, you provide the following personal information:

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your email address
  • The body of your message
  • Optionally, your telephone number

Who sees this information

  • We will pass on your message, name, email and postal address and (if given) telephone number either direct to the politician(s) you write to, or, where we do not have a direct email address for the politician, through an official channel (such as a council democratic services department or parliamentary office) whose job it is to distribute mail to representatives.
  • Note that it is common for MPs and other busy representatives to employ staff who may read and respond to mail on their behalf. Representatives’ offices will have and adhere to their own privacy protocols.
  • No-one else views any of the information you provide, unless there is a problem with the delivery of your message. In such cases, WriteToThem admin staff may access your message in order to understand what the issue is. Admin staff have been trained to keep to the high levels of confidentiality dictated by our moderation policies.
  • The body of your message is included in the confirmation and survey emails we send you. These mails are sent through an automated process and are unseen by humans. If you have concerns about messages which contain sensitive content, please be careful in forwarding or sharing these emails.
  • We sometimes use data from WriteToThem for research. This data does not contain identifying details such as names, addresses, email addresses or the content of messages. Rather, we analyse aggregate data for purposes such as our regular statistics on what percentage of users receive a response from their representatives. Our Research Data Release policy may be seen on request.
  • We will never sell or otherwise distribute any information you give WriteToThem to organisations or individuals outside of mySociety, except if required to do so by UK law.

Consequences of using WriteToThem

  • When your representative responds to your message, their reply will go directly to your email inbox. This response, and any subsequent correspondence, happens outside the WriteToThem system.
  • WriteToThem does not operate a mailing list and there is no concept of accounts or registration on the site.
  • We will never send you unsolicited email except for the following:
    1. If you submit a message but do not click the confirmation link, we send you one reminder after 24 hours;
    2. Two weeks after you send your message, we send you an automated email to ask whether you received a response. If you do not respond, we send you a single reminder.
    3. On rare occasions, we pass on a message from a politician who is concerned that they have mislaid emails from their constituents, inviting you to re-establish contact.

Email opt-out

As part of the process of sending your message to your representative we will send you a limited number of emails, as described above. If during this process you wish to stop receiving emails from us, or you are a representative who no longer wishes to receive email via WriteToThem*, please contact us.

* If you are a representative wishing to opt out of WriteToThem, we encourage you to think again! WriteToThem is a system which makes it simple for your constituents to contact you, where they might find other channels more difficult to access. We have measures in place that prevent bulk mailings and contact with representatives other than the constituents’ own. You may wish to read more about the service and how you can best use it at https://www.mysociety.org/mp-services/.

Legal basis for processing

When you use WriteToThem to contact your representative, we are processing your data under the legal basis 6(1)(f) of the General Data Protection Regulation – legitimate interests. We believe we are pursuing a legitimate interest in benefitting you and society by helping you easily find out who your representatives are at different levels and giving you an easy way to contact them. This is also the legitimate interest we have in processing the names and contact information for representatives.

Retention policies

  • We store your IP address and the pages that you visited whilst on the site as part of our site logs. We keep these for one month.
  • We do not keep permanent copies of the letters you write to send to your representatives.
  • We store the content of your message for four weeks after it was dispatched, and then it is automatically deleted. We keep a copy in backup files for one additional week. Unless there is a technical problem with your message, it is never viewed by WriteToThem staff. We keep messages in our servers for this long to enable us to monitor and prevent abuse of the service. It also means we can include a copy of your message in the questionnaire which asks if your representative has responded yet, so you know which one we are talking about.
  • If delivery of a message fails for a period of seven days, we keep the message content for a further eight weeks, to give us time to diagnose the problem and where possible to resend the message.
  • We keep records of names, emails and addresses for two years in order to provide an audit trail if a representative queries the accuracy of the statistics on response rates we produce. We will never give these out to a representative on any other occasion than when you send them your message.
  • If you contact WriteToThem via our support email address we will keep your message for two years. This is to aid continuity and so that we can view any historic context which may have bearing on subsequent support mail, even if members of the support staff change. Support staff adhere to strict internal privacy and security policies.

Your right to access

You may contact us at any time to ask to see what personal data we hold about you.

Your right to object

The General Data Protection Regulation gives you the right to object to our processing of your personal information and to ask us to stop processing it. However, it also gives us the right to continue to process it if we can demonstrate compelling legitimate grounds for the processing that override your interests, rights and freedoms. To exercise your right to object, you can contact us, giving specific reasons why you are objecting to the processing of your personal data. These reasons should be based upon your particular situation.

Your right to complain

If you believe that we have mishandled your data, you have the right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office. You can report a concern here (but do contact us first, so that we can try and help).

Who we are

WriteToThem is run by mySociety, a UK not-for-profit social enterprise. Our registered address is:

mySociety
483 Green Lanes
London
N13 4BS
United Kingdom

…and we can also be contacted here.

Cookies

To make our service easier or more useful, we sometimes place small data files on your computer or mobile phone, known as cookies; many websites do this. We use this information to measure how people use the website so we can improve it and make sure it works properly. Below, we give more information on which cookies we use.

Measuring website usage (Google Analytics)

We use Google Analytics software to collect information about how you use this site. We do this to help make sure the site is meeting the needs of its users and to help us make improvements.

Google Analytics stores information such as what pages you visit, how long you are on the site, how you got here, what you click on, and information about your web browser. IP addresses are masked (only a portion is stored) and personal information is only reported in aggregate. We do not allow Google to use or share our analytics data for any purpose besides providing us with analytics information, and we recommend that any user of Google Analytics does the same.

Opting out

You can opt out of Google Analytics cookies.

If you want to disable advertising-based tracking, you can adjust your Google Ads Settings, or opt out of advertising-based tracking across a number of providers in one go using the Network Advertising Initiative’s opt-out form.

Rest assured, we only track usage data for one reason: to help us understand how we can make the site work better for you, our users.

Credits

Bits of wording taken from the GOV.UK cookies page (under the Open Government Licence).